Top 5 Bon Scott-era AC/DC songs

By Frank Gogola

AC/DC have never stopped rocking, even as band members have come and gone.

The band’s biggest loss came when lead singer Bon Scott died 35 years ago today at the age of 33. The official cause of death was listed as acute alcoholic poisoning.

AC/DC had just established itself in America with the 1979 “Highway to Hell” album, but Scott wouldn’t enjoy the worldwide success the band found under his replacement, Brian Johnson.

The 1980 “Back in Black” album, a tribute to Scott, went on to be one of the top-selling albums of all time, and AC/DC has had numerous other hits. But, on this day we celebrate Scott with some of the best songs sung by the original – although technically second – lead singer of AC/DC.

Honorable mentions (10 in alphabetical order): “Big Balls,” “High Voltage,” “Jailbreak,” “Live Wire,” “Problem Child,” “Ride On,” “Sin City,” “The Jack,” “T.N.T.” and “Touch Too Much”

No. 5: “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

AC/DC play equal-opportunity hit men for hire in “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” is the title song off the band’s 1976 album, originally released only in Australia; Americans had to wait for the song since the album wasn’t released in the United States until 1981. Bon’s menacing lyrics combined with the Youngs’ brute force on guitar make this song unforgettable and help it beat out some other deserving songs for the fifth spot.

No. 4: “Let There Be Rock”

AC/DC take on the role of God in “Let There Be Rock,” chronicling rock ‘n’ roll’s birth beginning in 1955. The title song of the group’s 1977 album tells how light, sound, drums and guitar were the necessary ingredients for rock music to be born. As the song moves along so too does the reach of rock with “15 million fingers learning how to play.” If the song wasn’t already great it includes an extended guitar solo from Angus Young at the end, which usually lasts anywhere from three to 10-plus minutes, varying during live performances.

No. 3: “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” 

Bagpipes. What? Bagpipes. Yes! “It’s a Long Way to the Top” is a great song about the hard work required and obstacles that need to be overcome to make it big in the rock ‘n’ roll music industry, and the bagpipes Bon plays give this song an added punch. One doesn’t necessarily think of including bagpipes in a rock song, but they fit so well here it’s impossible to imagine AC/DC taking more than a second to decide it was proper to include the blaring bagpipes.

No. 2: “Whole Lotta Rosie”

“Whole Lotta Rosie” was inspired by Scott’s supposedly true one-night stand with a woman. But, this just wasn’t any woman; it was an obese Tasmanian woman who drew Scott’s eye. The 1977 song off the band’s “Let There Be Rock” album is still performed during their live shows with a large inflatable Rosie doll onstage. But just how large was this Rosie? Scott is not shy to say, singing that she measures “42-39-56” while weighing in at “19 stone,” which is the equivalent of 266 pounds.

No. 1: “Highway to Hell”

What else could you possibly have expected to top this list? “Highway to Hell,” a song about the band’s life on the road while touring, is not only the greatest song of the Bon Scott era; it’s one of the best AC/DC songs of all time. If “Highway to Hell,” off the 1979 album of the same name, doesn’t come to mind when thinking of great rock songs then you’re doing something wrong. It’s so popular the band even performed this song Feb. 8 at The Grammys in its first appearance on U.S. television in more than 14 years.